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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 30, 2015 5:00am-7:01am EDT

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, we have a nuclear physicist in charge of the department of energy. i -- i want to go to page 226 -- you know what i'm talking about -- deferential in natural gas prices between new england and the rest of the country, 2-7 is the number of chart. this is an infrastructure problem. and i just think it's something -- it's absolutely urgent for our region. we went into natural gas in a big way, starting in the year 2000, and now 50 to 60% of the electricity comes from natural gas, and a lot of people like myself, switched to natural gas to heat our homes, and last winter, winter before last, we had thee highest natural gas prices in the world, and this shows us it almost doubled the
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u.s. rate. i just hope that the department can be aggressive and forward leaning in partnering with the delegation and utilities to solve the problem. it's not a gas problem as you know, and i think it's going -- it's going to take an all of the above kind of strategy in terms of permitting and it's a really urgent problem for the region and i assume you agree with that. >> yes, in fact, the very first field hearings we had for the qer were in new england driven by the gas pipeline issue and the representatives of all six governors were part of that meeting. frankly, the remarks made were such that the governors felt they, you know, were going to have this under control, and would take care of it.
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in fact, i understand that next year in 2016, that there will be a substantial expansion of capacity taking gas into the boston area through there but further north is a challenge. there, i don't know how this turns out, and happy to work with you, senator king, and the -- >> well, this is a problem of our system, is that we're either federal or state. we don't have regional entities and i think this is a case where we're not asking for federal intervention, but asking for a federal quarterback in a sense, i think. >> yes. >> you can help to convene and move this process. >> happied too. that the -- again, the issues for the southern part of new england look to be coming under control probably next year. i don't know, but would be a good discussion. there are discussions about getting the gas up to canada,
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and that might provide an opportunity for moving gas in northern new england. >> which wrings another question. there's the reversing the pipeline running from southern new england to massachusetts, reversing it exporting gas from canada meaning it's technically not under the national interest review, and i would hope that you consider as that project moves forward or the discussions inserting a requirement that that gas bedivertble during times of peak demand rather than going to canada that it be dr there be some -- a provision that during peak demand it could be retained in the region. we can discuss? further, but i hope you think about it. >> there will be a national interest determination. >> good. and i commend that issue to you. quickly, i want to associate
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myself with the comments of the senator about distributed energy and storage. i recently re-watched "the graduate", and the guy in the movie says plastics famously, plastics plastics. today, he'd say storage, energy storage. that's going to be a huge issue and one of the things you can do, a troublesome issue here, a national security issue and a private rights personal rights interest to have energy generated at your house but that the challenge that is what's the right number for the grid charge for back up and capacity, and it's got to be sufficient so that other rate payers to not pay the cost, but not so high to unreasonably burden this development, which i think is very important. it's going to happen anyway.
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so another area helpful to us is to have your smart people thinking about what would be the formula for determining a reasonable backup charge or reasonable capacity however you characterize it, and then, finally, to really help us start thinking about -- i think we got to get to the point of realtime time of day metering, and there's great value to the grid if solar is on at 4:00 in the afternoon. there's not so much value if it's 10:00 in the morning. how to figure out those kinds of issues so the compensation to the homeowner is fair and reasonable and provides proper incentives for that power generated when we most need it. >> again that's the issue of the valuation, which we have to look at debt prattsperately, and it's going to be more and more critical, including for, what i call a specially maybe semirural
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area with a grid and distribution system and yet if -- as people go perhaps off the grid because storage becomes useful, obviously, that then, spreads the cost over smaller populations and it could be a real issue. we have a real challenge looking through what's an opportunity of the new technology possibility, and yet the transition from our current model is going to have real strains in the system. >> thank you. thank you. mr. secretary, again, thank you for the work on the iran negotiations. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator king. secretary, i understand in response to questions from both senator gardner and barasso where they probed on the issue of oil export. you said for purposes of this, you did not go into that. i understand why.
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we are talking about infrastructure. i also understand this is one of those connects or nexus where if you have policy decisions made today as it is in place, you're probably not prepared for tomorrow in recognizing when we talk about the issue of oil exports and what that might do for increased production domestically bringing on new sources of supply, which will then require additional infrastructure, that there is a connection there, and i -- i understand why you would defer on a question like this, but i do think that as we are talking about an energy infrastructure and policies for the country going forward, we need to be looking at some of the antiquated policies that we have in place, whether it's oil
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exports or otherwise, and really, envisioning where we go with this, and so i'm going to keep pushing you on this as other members on the committee will as well going back to a comment made in the opening about the transalaska pipeline. we have a fabulous piece of infrastructure truly an engineering marvel 800 miles of pipe bisecting this state and has been doing a pretty good job for 40 some odd years, but if we don't have sufficient throughput as we are getting to that point you have that infrastructure that is no longer working at its capacity, and at some point at some point, we don't know exactly when, you lose that valuable piece of infrastructure, and then what do you do? then you really have stranded supply, so while you may not have evaluated whether or not we need to do more when it comes to offshore or how we get moving
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with the merits of going after our phenomenal reserves in the anwar, it speaks, again, to the nexus between our production domestically and infrastructure there. i wanted to ask a little bit more about north american energy integration because i think this is key. when we're talking about energy security in my mind it's not just the united states but partners to the north in canada and south in mexico and it's that north american energy security and integration. you spoke in previous responses about what we're doing to collect and share data. i think that that's critically important, but looking at
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permitting delays for cross border pipelines, and, obviously, keystone xl is out in the news, but it's not just keystone xl. it is so much more going between borders of the north and south. can you elaborate more on how we achieve how you and i agree is critical not only to the united states, but to our partners, mexico, and canada as well. how do we get there? right now, we can't even get moving with a simple swap between canada -- excuse me, between united states and mexico for our heavy -- for their -- for our light for their heavy. >> well i think that -- first of all this sounds like a very you know vanilla answer, but i think one of the issues is we need to start a stronger
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dialogue with both countries than we have had. i was shocked, frankly -- >> when you say start, we assume we had the dialogue. >> okay start was not quite the right word, but i was trying to give the impression it's been nowhere near as robust as it should be. >> i agree. >> frankly, i was shocked going to ottawa last year apparently the first time the secretary of energy had been to canada in well over a decade. which was kind of surprising. we agree the three energy ministers of the three countries, we agreed to at least an annual trilateral energy meeting. for example, the data agreement we signed last december, we also met together in actually in houston, this past week and had a panel together, and we have
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the discussion of identifying issues with the swap and i'll be part of the discussion to examine the situation. i don't make the decision but it's an important decision. we have set up a joint task force that i chair on the american side with mexico, and, in fact, we'll be in mexico in may, meeting with both the energy and the environment ministers, and so i think we are -- the qer is part of that frankly, really picking up the pace of this dialogue. we are mapping out questions we have and i want to make progress. i have to add, by the way, the mexican delegation, a subject talked about before in another context, but they, for example also raised a desire to work
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together on men than hydrates. we have an agenda mapped out, and now we have to go forward. >> i encourage the administration to be aggressive with this. we talk about it. and to hear you say that we have not had a secretary of energy visit canada in a decade is stunning. >> yeah. it was crazy. >> we can do better. >> right. >> thank you. >> i had to step out for a moment, mr. secretary but i know that several members have been talking about the grid in general, and i mean, of this review the key recommendation for the immediate focus is about infrastructure, and the grid is a big part of that, is that right? >> oh, yes, absolutely. one of the four major core areas. >> right. so it's -- so part of my question is, we've -- in previous legislation, did a lot of focus for states to help us
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in discussing where to go on grid modernization and try to get various schematics in place and microgrid systems, figuring out how to get grids to connect to the larger grid, and then obviously, frequent -- the issue of cyber security becoming the larger issue, and that's mentioned in the report as well and so obviously, d.o.e. plays a major role in this. what's the schematics we have to look at on the grid what research and development should we be doing? i wanted to ask about why transformers are so important. explain that a little bit. but, clearly, there are some key' rapproaches we can take as a federal entity to push further on where the grid needs to go and you have done a good job in the report of combining the
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elements of different types of energy sources, obviously i don't think it's been called out so specifically in the report, but, to me the biggest advent here is just the notion of distributed generation. the same kind of distributed generation that the interpret brought us brings us distributed generation opportunities for energy, which means then, you know again, it becomes a platform play. what do you think are the schematics we need to do? how would you -- so how would you approach this next phase of working on grid modernization? >> well on the research and development side you mentioned -- i mean, you know, in broad strokes, i think the much more aggressive introduction and utilization of i.t. with the grid is absolutely critical and just as -- again, as an antedote last week releasing the report, in the control room and we saw where
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the data came in, a wonderful new technology but the fact is it was not integrated into an operational system yet so we have a long way to go yet to fully realize benefits of i.t. in the system, both for the transmission system high voltage system, and true for the distribution system. secondly of course, the more we introduce i.t., the more we have to address the cyber vulnerabilityies vulnerabilities. that goes hands in hand. >> isn't it more with so many transactions and e-commerce and everything living online if we don't harden the grid or make it redundant, we are susceptible, right? >> we need cyber protection of the grid so it in turn,
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supports all the other commerce electronic commerce that we have. a third area you touched upon it is integrating microgrids. again, as one example, of a project that helped shape our thinking in terms of the resiliency recommendations, we cost shared with the state of new jersey, a design of a micro grid to protect and make resilient a critical transportation corridor. we put in relatively small funds to do the design work and then they were successful in getting a post-sandy d.o.t. grant
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hundreds of millions of dollars to implement it. the architecture, dg is important, and the idea of our leveraging funds to then have big infrastructure projects done is a good model that we use here so those are important. transformers, the issue is really that these large transformers typically just step down from very high voltage to a lower voltage, tend to be probably more than they need to be. they tend to be rather unique, and very -- if you have a problem, very hard to replace very -- they cost millions of dollars each. it may take six months to replace it, and you got a big problem. and so so that's why we're thinking of working with you till ewe till tills to have a private-public partnership for uniform ways to have backups for
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key transformers. >> efficiency screams out in the report as a big savings for all of us. >> yes. >> i hope we take your recommendations and go a step forward. what is that grid investment gets us juxtaposed to ignoring it and having cyber threats or ignoring it and talk about the climate impacts we saw devastating and spending millions of dollars in aftermath repairs, and we can be smarter about that. >> there's a nice graph in there that shows over the last decade, dramatically increasing in terms of outages, is impact of extreme weather. >> yes. >> it's grown enormously. >> thank you. >> yes. >> thank you, madam chairman. i want to pick up on a question you just posed. mr. secretary, thank you for coming to north dakota as part
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of the process. appreciate it very much. the qer recognizes the growth and importance of energy development in places like my state of north dakota. and elsewhere as well as the need to update and expand our energy infrastructure as part of building an energy plan for this country, but it also discusses the importance of partnering with our friends and allies canada, and mexico. how do you expect that we're going to build a relationship, a better relationship on energy, with canada, if we do not approve the keystone xl pipeline? >> again q.e.r. nor i will comment on any specific project but we do note that in terms of pipelines, we have more than 70 across the border -- >> is that making an argument for keystone or against it? >> it was a completely neutral statement of data. [ laughter ] i'm a very data-driven person, and i believe 74 is the exact
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number, in fact and i'll add in working with canada we have right now more than 4 gig watts of applications for high voltage transmission lines to bring hydro down one hudson. we have a big energy relationship with canada. we want to grow it more. that's independent of any specific project. >> along those lines, i'm working on a bipartisan legislation. it's the north american energy infrastructure act, and it's designed to do what you just said, help build energy infrastructure so that we can work with canada and mexico. north america has an incredible opportunity, all forms of energy, not just pipelines, but transmission lines rail and road all in the right mix to move energy efficiently and cost
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effectively and safely. >> i would add to the list, waterways as well. >> waterways too. is that something you'd be willing to help work on? >> absolutely, be happy to chat as we always do. >> thank you. it's not just transmission and pipeline, but we have railroads out there working to build more rail. >> uh-huh. >> we need capacity in all these areas, and not even just for energy. that is one the q.e. talks about, the constraints. how can you help us advance the regulations, knock down regulatory barriers to build this infrastructure, it's private investment we want to do it right and well but we got to get through the regulatory constraints constraints. >> yeah, i think, again, i would be happy to work with you, senator hoven, but partly, also in the way perhaps, as maybe helping out as a gateway to other agencies as well, because
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clearly, responsibilities for the issues you're addressing are spread across multiple agencies, department of energy has relatively little -- we do the presidential determination for electricity lines, but, obviously, not for other kinds of transport. >> it would be great if maybe you could be perhaps the linked, the interagency effort, so we streamline the process. maybe that's a good role for d.o.e. >> something to discuss absolutely. in the same sense we were the executive secretary for the q.e.r. >> right. another item i was thinking, didn't watch all the testimony, but i think, perhaps the chairman brought up oil export. this is an important issue in many respects not only in terms of our economic growth and building our energy industry here at home, but also in helping provide more supply, reduce the price at the pump
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and give me your position on oil export, and how we should approach lifting the oil export ban. >> my position is that's the responsibility of the department of commerce, but i have a few observations. this is not dispositive in any way whether we should or should not or how we should lift oil exports. that's a bigger discussion. i think in that discussion we have the ground truth today that we still import 7 million barrels of oil per day. that's not again say yes or no on the question that you posed but we have to remember that in contrast to lng where we are, assume will be more than self-sufficient in natural gas, we remain large importers of
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crude and significant importers of net petroleum and petroleum projects. that's the reality. so the issue in the end is what you pointed out. would a lifting in exports result in a significant increase in production or not? i think that's a question, which is not often enough focused on in terms of analysis, and, certainly, it's probably the case, and times change, but today, with what's happening with oil prices, et cetera, you know it might be a hard case to make one sees a huge response in terms of production, but that's -- that's the question to address. >> what i would ask, mr. secretary, is that just as you worked with us on the lng export issue, and we appreciate that. i think it's been helpful and productive working with your office and have legislation with
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an opportunity to pass. your effort is significant and important in the effort. i ask for that same help and willingness to work together on the oil export ban. >> again happy to do that, just again, with the proview sew. make linkages to the other parts of the administration. >> thank you. >> thank you. last week, we had an interesting discussion talking about the impact of iran's sanctions and that effectively by not removing the oil ban, and we keep in place or impose domestic sanctions on u.s. soil. look forward to continuing that conversation. >> i have to add that you probably discussed but that eia has done a whole series of
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reports that will culminate in june analysis of relevance to the oil export discussion. >> yes. we're looking forward to those as well. senator franken. >> thank you madam chair. i -- i would just put in a word of caution for the export of lng. minnesota produces no lng, and we like to keep the costs down, and so for generational electricity, for manufacturing, for heating, so there are i believe the energy information agency has said that it would lead to cost rises in the united states if we do export and specially export a significant amount. i -- mr. secretary i'd like to
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talk about renewable energy production on indian lands. our tribes in minnesota and elsewhere have tremendous renewable energy resources in minnesota, biomass and wind and solar too but in, i mean, if you've been to arizona, you know there's tremendous solar there and with distributed energy as a goal and microgrids as a goal i would like to see the energy team up with indian energy to pilot programs there for micro grids and distributed energy because it would great jobs in indian country and be a wonderful place for us to pilot program -- you know, cutting
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edge technology and to see where that leads. so i think -- i would just recommend to you thinking about indian, you know, when senator king talked about storage as the word used in "the graduate" plastics, it wouldn't. the point of the line was to make fun of the guy. storage is really cool and really cutting edge. as the form erer satirist, storage would not be used instead of practices, and i take tremendous issues with the senator from maine. >> where did you go joe d demaggio. >> very good. that's a reference to the sound
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track for those of us of a certain age. [ laughter ] would you look into that is what i'm saying? >> i would love to collaborate on that and also indian country, alaskan native villages, et cetera, we have -- i'm going to ask for some help in fact. you know we have a program on indian energy and i think it's very effective in terms of what it does with a very limited budget. in fact, it's authorized with a cap on the budget. however, we have a proposal in the budget to bring to your attention, actually, you and the chair, which is we requested -- to be honest it was not funded in the house mark -- $11 million for a loan guarantee program for indian energy, alaska native
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villages, and the idea is there with $11 million in credit subsidy, it leverages $100 million of actual projects, way above budget we have for indian energy. happy to discuss that in more detail and work through what to do there. the idea would be, like sub megawatt projects. >> ased chair and i know funding levels for indian and native peoples is incredibly low, and i really believe this is something the chairwoman and i agree, are enthusiastic about, and that also, so that's biomass often and so those distributed energy -- and i also am running
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out of time, i want to touch on methane and the importance of capturing it. because the greenhouse effect of methane is greater than c 02 we have to capture that. >> in our work, including in the q.e.r. two focus areas for d.o.e. and the production side, but we look particularly at the tnd infrastructure, and on the natural gas transmission side -- distribution side, we have a tremendous amount of old cast iron pipe and bare steel which is both a safety and climate challenge. we propose a program to fundamentally to support low income house holesholds as accelerated
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replacement programs are absorbed into rates, and so that's an example of what to do there for both safety and for environmental reasons, and in addition, we're working on compressors, which are the biggest lost point on the natural gas transmission system. >> thank you. >> thank you madam chair. >> senator? >> thank you. mr. secretary, i'm about to ask a bunch of questions i don't know the answer to. >> i probably don't either. >> i hope you do. and so, but if you say you don't, i'll accept that. what has been in the news lately is the uranium one sale to russia. the canadian company that gave contributions to the clinton foundation, they have uranium mining rights across the world
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including the united states subsequently sold to a russian concern. there's a scandal involved not here to discuss the scandal. what i'm interesting in is arm z that has the holdings what percent of actively mined u.s. uranium resources are controlled by the russian concern? do you know that? >> i do not. i was not aware of any, to be honest. i'll look into that. i don't know the issue, i'm sorry. >> okay. okay, then if you don't know the issue, it may not work for any of these because the second question would be, i understand again, that the russians now claim to control a significant portion of world uranium deposits. in which case can they choose to increase price by limiting supply? again, i asked this for no other reason that i think there's national security issues at stake.
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the -- >> again i -- i'd have to look at this and happy to get back to you, however, surprising in the sense that i believe the larger reserves are in kazakhstan, and the second largest, i believe, are australia. >> now, they own those two. uranium 1 had holdings con bienmbined with the south african form purchased australian firms, and the kazakhstan firms -- maybe they already had that, this was in a "new york times" article. >> i didn't see it, sorry. >> now owning reserves in the western united states, which i gather are being exported to canada, the mined material, even though it's not allowed for uranium 1, but the trucking companies allow it to export. so it seemed like a loophole. while, i'll ask these for the record since you don't know the answers. >> yeah. >> again, it just seems of incredible importance to our
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national security and energy security. that's why i asked. >> i'll look into it, sir. >> thank you senator cassidy. we're about to the noon hour. i got a couple quick questions for you, and one follows on your discussion with senator franken what the office of energy is doing, and i think we have seen some good things. i look forward toing discussing the loan guarantee with you a little more than. we recognize that in places like alaska and going back to the discussion about how we partner with canada and some of our infrastructure issues, we know heat is the biggest challenge in the north, not necessarily electricity, but recognizing the q.e.r. is looking to partner
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with can dan on energy delivery to remote areas is something that i want to work with you on. i want to explore the different delivery systems you are talking about there, whether it's efficiency, housing design tongs, and i was up in the territory with the secretary of state friday and you realize how isolated these communities are, those of significant size and resource, but the challenges they face. they also are exclusively powered by diesel. >> expensive. >> extraordinarily expensive. so how do we deal with this? we have so much to learn from one another, and this is where we have advantages coming at it taking over the chair of the arctic council how to partner with our northern neighbors in i understanding some of the best
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technologies that are out there. i would encourage us to look at what we have been developing in also whether it's the cold climate housing research center innovative technologies coming out of there with regards to sustainable design building community capacity we really do have some remarkable models and so this is something i encourage to partner with you on, but we have some key opportunities. the final issue i want to bring up really with regards to alaska is the -- the recommendations. there's two of them. one is the remote community renewable energy partnership. i'm pleased with the direction we are looking at there, and i
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want to know we're working together in this but with regards to the energy renewable partnership, the q.e.r. states that the state department with this partnership will construct a high penetration hybrid in a rural community suggesting it's one project they are looking to build out, but when you take into account what we've done in the state of alaska since 2008 we've invested more than 247 million dollars to 275 renewable energy projects across the state through our state's renewable energy grant fund. we funded 5 .5 million to 20 emerging energy technology projects, spent more than $600 million on making homes more energy efficient, so it's been a total of $850 million that the state has invested with its
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expertise and all of its doings, and i'm hoping when we're reading what's coming out of the qer, it is -- it's not just limited to a single project you're looking at with remote community energy partnership, but, again looking how to build off of what the state has done and continues to do is develop a stronger partnership there. >> again i welcome that and as -- i think as you know we do have -- i think it's in anchorage is where they are located, a personal from netl there, and they might be good conduits for looking at how the state programs and what we do could be synced up. we have those people permanently based in alaska.
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>> >> yeah. my last question for you is regarding the spent nuclear fuel. very little in the q.e.r. about nuclear energy and really nothing about the back end of the fuel cycle. we have been working on this, and i truly appreciate how you have intersected with not only senator cantwell and myself, but smart senators alexander and feinstein on the issue, but why did we not address this in the q.e.r.? >> again, that was on infrastructure and moving energy around opposed to the -- nuclear power, could have put it in there in terms of transportation of spent fuel, for example, and we have in the budget request for fy 16 -- 6.9 million
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specifically to address the transportation questions of spent fuel including the kinds of rail casts you would need, et cetera, so that's -- so that's in there, but otherwise, yeah, we did not address that in the q.e.r., but, again, i'm happy to talk about that including the storage options and the transportation option, developing consent based processes, and looking at the defense waste pathways that we can now pursue, so i think it's a full agenda. >> it is. >> and i look forward to working on that. >> it is a full agenda and we're going to be having a hearing on it -- on our nuclear waste legislation in the next month and a half or so, so we'll look forward to your comments on that. >> great. >> obviously a great deal you have presented through this -- this q.e.r., we appreciate that but, again i think it's going
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to be incumbent on us, you, and your team and d.o.e. and those of us here at the committee and on the house side as well to really figure out, okay, how do we move forward with this how do we keep up the level of engagement, and how do we make sure this is more than just talk? the need is so clearly there. and we have the potential as a nation when we don't focus on the longer term view of our energy infrastructure. if we cannot deal with it in a cost effective way. >> we are very eager and, in
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fact, it's not in the plan, but we can share this, come back and talk about what our recommendations are in the plan you know, which ones could we per sue with, you know current authorities and administration, and that's relatively few, versus all those that need action in the body, and so i have no interest in having a wonderful monument on a library shelf opposed to an implementation plan. we turn to implementation issues of qer 1, and of course the second round of q.e.r. 2 because this was just one slice of the overall picture, yeah and, also, just repeating as i said earlier on follows on what you said, that decisions we take are important for shaping the energy system for decades, and the decisions we don't take are equally important.
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doing nothing is not neutral in this business. >> okay. and ought not be an option either. >> right. >> we look forward to working with you. senator? >> i know we're closing out here as we get to the noon hour but i just -- again i want to thank the sec for the report and heading that up in coordination with the other agency and appreciate the climate goals in the report as well, and more specifically, i want to work with you on things like 1 million people currently work in energy transmission but we think there's an additional 1.5 million by 2030. that's a need. i have no doubt that we need to scale up a lot of the american work force. we're going to need to meet demand. it's, as you said, i.t. meaning the grid and exciting opportunity, but i think at the base level, there's a lot of work to do whether that's through d.o.e. or interagency
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work or apprentice programs or many other things but i think skilling the work force we need for the things we say we want to do is going to be a critical aspect of needing energy needs of the future. >> we informed not so long ago a jobs strategy council at d.o.e. under the very able leadership of someone named dave foster. be delighted to have him come up, meet with you and the staff and others because i think making some really progress in a number of dimensions including the issue of veteran hiring into the energy arena, but they are involved, also, with community college programs issues, in terps terms of driving a jobs agenda for energy. >> thank you. thank you very much. >> yeah. >> thank you. thank you. >> madam chair?
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>> thank you all for being here. today's hearing is one in the series we hold in preparation for this year's federal aviation administration's reauthorization effort, and last week we heard from experts and stake holders on the certification process and airport infrastructure financing. today, we have the opportunity to discuss the single most important underlying issue for any reauthorization effort, and that's safety the safety of our national air space system and safety of the flying public. with that i want to recognize the family members of the flight 4307 that crashed near buffalo in 2009 and i understand people
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affected are in the audience today. we appreciate your coming to the hearing today. safety is is and must remain the top priority. the united states national air space system is one of the safest in the world, even while being one of the most complex systems in the world. safety record we enjoy is a product of hard work of government and industry alike, but it requires vigilant and documentation and ongoing and improving assessment. this hearing will cover a broad array of issues, and i appreciate the wnszitnesses being here today. in 2010, we had the federal aviation expansion act, and enacted the faa modernization and reform act, and today, i look forward to hearing from the witnesses about safety improvements implemented since laws were enacted and what still remains to be done. the faa made significant progress in implementing reforms mandated by the airline safety
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ak act, and yet some initiatives are undone and in particular, focusing on the progress in implementing the pilot record data base. this is an important tool to make sure airlines have all the information needed to assist pilots in the cockpit and i urge the faa to move quickly in implementing the reform. more recently people noticed the issue with the supply of pilots noting disagreement here noting the real cause of real or perceived shortage. i hope to hear about the issue to properly assess and understand the situation. reviewing the issue i'm confident no one on the committee, including me wants to compromise passenger safety. we want to make sure that we have, of course, well-qualified pilots to serve in our air system. i also look forward to testimony on the mental and physical fitness of airline pilots. tragically, the recent germanwings crash brought the
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aviation's attention to the health of pilots and safety measures with respect to access to the flight deck and we have to learn from the incident and, certainly, any thoughts you have today for us to understand, we'd appreciate it. we will also have an opportunity to discuss safety management systems, pilot commuting commercial aircraft tracking, fliekt data, quarter remodifications, and safety. we all know the airports and run rays are complex areas with many moving parts and, again,ville lance is required, and i look forward to hearing about the agency's ongoing efforts here to ensure the safety of the runways. we will also exam issues affecting the general aviation community, general aviation is an important part of our civil aviation system and encompasses aviation enthusiast, recreational fliers but for a lot of rural community, it serves as a key link for businesses and first responders.
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especially in rural communities and also, i know for some of my colleagues, for example, in alaska and hawaii, 24this is a very important issue. there are several pilots in my family and i can attest to the enthusiasm and passion for flying. a recent government accountability office report indicated total general aviation operations and annual hours flown decreased between 2000 and 2010. today, i want to better understand the reasons for these declines and what it happening in the general aviation industry as well. captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008 captioning performed by vitac
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